Event Preview: “How to be an Ally”

By Zoya Zia

On March 5, individuals have the opportunity to attend a free workshop focused on “How to Be an Ally.” For more information, view the Facebook event here and register on Eventbrite here. Learning about allyship is important now more than ever.

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The divisive rhetoric used by the ongoing administration has already led to alienation and widespread fear. Some may feel helpless or unable to remedy the situation. Individuals should address the issues and find ways to unite- in doing so, they can become allies in the fight against hate. 

An ally can be described as a member of an advantaged social group who uses their privilege to counter injustice. By continuously educating themselves and exposing layers of structural oppression, allies stand in solidarity with marginalized groups. Although allyship starts with this commitment to learning, the process involves much more.

Intersectionality helps allies consider the interconnectedness of social identities. Through this lens, they understand that race, gender, social class, sexual orientation, and other identities are inexplicably linked. The experiences of those who are marginalized in society do not fit into isolated boxes of “racism” and “sexism.” Systems of inequality overlap to impact individuals in the community.

When allies recognize their privilege and see how social identities inform each other, they embark on a life-long journey towards social awareness. This journey requires humility and the willingness to take a step back and listen to others, even if that leads to confrontation about one’s behavior and attitudes.

Although allies may feel uncomfortable at first, actively engaging with others and knowing one’s place is a crucial part of the process. Without a thorough understanding of social structures, they can be complicit in oppression. As a result, allies are responsible for educating themselves about stories that may not have been told.

Institute for Diversity & Civic Life Director Tiffany Puett will discuss these ideas in greater detail at the SXSW Festival in March. However, individuals need not buy a ticket to SXSW in order to learn about allyship. As mentioned earlier, they can attend the “How to be an Ally” workshop on March 5.

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